Monday, July 29, 2013

Genealogy From The Blueberry Patch

My family loves blueberries. Fortunately for us, we can satisfy our cravings every summer by picking our own at a local farm. Every July, we start to pay attention to the ripening rumors from the Tammen Treeberry Farm near Braidwood, Illinois.

Weather is a big factor. The last few years have seen extreme heat and extreme rain in northern Illinois. There are always blueberries, but how big, how many and how sweet depends on the weather. This summer it suddenly cooled and the farm was ready to open!

Years ago, my mom, her best friend and all of us kids headed to the farm. I recall it being child labor! Now I appreciate it as a nice outdoor activity with a great payoff. Often my kids join me, but this time they felt their teenager activities were more important. No matter - I will keep the tradition alive on my own. On this spectacularly cool Saturday last, I ventured out and about two hours later, I had 12 pounds of huge, sweet blueberries!

While picking, several ideas came to me that applied not only to gathering the most blueberries, but also to approaching my genealogy research.

Gather the Low-Hanging Fruit

The blueberry bushes grow to around eight feet tall. But the berries grow all over. There are plenty right in your view. Often the young kids wander through the fields, picking and eating what they can reach. Genealogy can be the same way: reach for those ancestors that are right in front of you. Don't make genealogy hard. And you can't keep moving back in time until you have a good handle on what is right in front of you.

Seek a Different Perspective

Blueberry bushes hide their bounty well. Moving to a different side of the bush, pulling down a tall branch or even ducking down underneath yields hidden fruit. Genealogy uses the FAN rule - friends, associates, neighbors - to find parallel tracks of your ancestors. Using collateral lines often exposes links and connections you never expected. Move the branches aside and you may find what you were searching for.

Get Your Hands Dirty

No doubt about it - blueberry pickin' is work. You'll probably stain your shirt and your hands. But you keep at it because you know how good those berries will taste! You also have to keep working at your genealogy to enjoy the fruits of your labor. You may have to get outside your comfort zone by working with records in a new state or country, maybe using a new language. You need to seek out new repositories of data sets you have never worked with before. But you pick through records and pick through bushes because you know the payoff will be worth it.

Do It Your Way

No one wanted to join me on my picking trip this year, but I went anyway. I wasn't going to worry about anyone's choices except my own because I wanted blueberries! So much discussion in the greater genealogy world has lately been focusing on how you do your work, how it is presented and preserved, and if you are doing it according to standards. Your research legacy is important - but first it should matter to you. Do research that makes you happy. If you are stuck at a brick wall - and we all are - reach out in a new way to break it down. If you are no longer satisfied with the results of your favorite online database - unsubscribe. Money talks louder than whining. If your social sharing arena isn't giving back the way you hoped or need, find new bloggers, tweeters, and posters that do. Create an online family history tree, or website, or book, or blog, or art project. Or don't. Research because you want to and be happy!

I am off to heed my own genealogy advice... and eat more blueberries!

© 2013 Sally Knudsen

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

My Birthday, Statistically Speaking

Today is my birthday.

Thank you for your good wishes :)

I decided that I would take a look at my database and see who in my family tree, either closely related or not, shares my birthday. My database has about 7,000 people, from all of my lines including marriage. I've done this type of search before for special days like Leap Day and the 4th of July.

In my online database I have an option to navigate based on a specific date. Entering July 24 gives me... one person. Just one!

He is George Dunckel, a very very very distant cousin through my Countryman lines in New York and Michigan. George was born 24 July 1829 somewhere in Upper Canada, and died in 1915 in Locke Township, Ingham, Michigan. He is buried in Rowley Cemetery, alongside dozens of other relations of mine. You did notice 1829, right? He is definitely older than me. Age is just a number. I digress.

But that got me thinking... how can there only be one person who shares my birthday? If my database has approximately 7,000 entries, those entries divided by 365 days in a year gives an expected number of "sharers" as 19. Birthday probability is a little trickier. Broken down in its simplest form, you only need a group of 23 people to have a slightly better than 50% chance of sharing a birthday. Do you know how many people in a group creates a near-perfect probability of sharing a birthday? 57! That is pretty mindblowing. In other words, in a random group of 57 people, the probability that two share a birthday is 99%. But only sharing with one out of 7,000 people? THAT is the statistical anomaly.

Here is a nifty calculator you can try yourself: Birthday Probability Calculator

Happy Birthday to me and George!

My mother always said I was unique. She was right.

© 2013 Sally Knudsen

Monday, July 22, 2013

The Hummel's Go To Church

Johann Lorenz "Lawrence" Hummel and his wife Christina Carolina "Carrie" Ebinger married in Coldwater, Branch, Michigan in 1869 and likely had their first child, David, there as well. By 1880, the new family resided in Adrian, Lenawee, Michigan, where they would remain for some time.

Part of retaining their immigrant heritage was joining a traditionally German Evangelical Lutheran congregation. In Adrian, it was St. John's Lutheran Church.

These are the church registers for the Hummel family, completed at St. John's in Adrian. It lists Johann Lorenz and Christina Carolina and their own dates and places of birth... in Germany! Then it lists in order their ten children. Dates of birth are in the second column and dates of death for David (#1) and Alma Emma (#10) are in the third column. Also note "zwillings" in the final column - zwillings is German for twins.

Here is St. John's Lutheran Church today:

St. John's was dedicated in 1862 and expanded to its current form in 1896. It was listed as a Michigan State Historic site in 1981, and listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1984. It has held services continually since its construction in 1862.

Here are some links to explore:

History of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America
Genealogy and the Lutheran Church
St. John's Lutheran Church historical marker
St. John's Lutheran Church as a waymark


St. John's Lutheran Church register, copy from microfilm, obtained as a paper copy from a paid researcher on 1999

Photo from WikiMedia Commons in the public domain

© 2013 Sally Knudsen

Saturday, July 20, 2013

Surname Saturday - EBINGER

The surname EBINGER belongs to my great-great-great grandmother, Christina Carolina "Carrie" Ebinger. Carrie married Johann Lorenz Hummel in 1869 in Coldwater, Branch, Michigan.

Carrie had a (likely) brother, Frederick Carl Ebinger. Carl, as he was known, married Barbara Catharina Hummel, sister of Johann Lorenz.

Some locations of these families in the US:

Adrian, Lenawee, Michigan
Lansing, Ingham, Michigan
Hubbard, Trumbull, Ohio

Carrie and Carl were born in Dafern, Backnang, Wuerttemburg, Germany:

View Larger Map

If you know the name EBINGER, please let me know!

© 2013 Sally Knudsen

Thursday, July 18, 2013

THIMBY Thursday - Grundy County Historical Museum

THIMBY Thursday is back!

THIMBY Thursday - meaning "The History in My Backyard" - is an occasional series I began to document interesting or historical things I encounter in my travails. Have camera, will travel.

Today's entry is the Grundy County Historical Museum in Morris, Grundy, Illinois. Morris is the quintessential small Midwestern town, located on I-80 about 75 minutes from Chicago. Morris, with a population of about 14,000, is home to the Grundy County Corn Festival, held every September.

The Grundy County Historical Museum is filled with various exhibits, photographs, and memorabilia from the area. The museum is open Thursday - Saturday (see link below) and admission is free. Thank you to Dorothy for showing me around!

Grundy County Historical Museum

many of the exhibits

my favorite: giant framed display of early Morris settlers

farm shed FILLED with tools and implements

various types of barbed wire - who knew?

excellent I and M Canal diorama


Grundy County Historical Society and Museum website
Downtown Morris link
Wikipedia: Morris, Illinois

View Larger Map

© 2013 Sally Knudsen

Sunday, July 14, 2013

Playin' With PicMonkey

PicMonkey is a nifty free photo editor. If you are looking for a quick, multi-option editor to add effects to your photos, give it a try.

PicMonkey is totally internet-based. From the home page, you simply select a photograph from your computer and begin editing. There is nothing to download. The application is free. There is also a more fully-featured version available with registration, but the basic version is packed with choices. It includes options for red-eye reduction and blemish correction for faces. After you find an effect, simply choose "Apply." You can keep editing, or "Save" to a location on your computer. That's it!

Here is a photograph I took recently in bright sunshine, and I made several PicMonkey edits to it:

original photo

blue tint with rain drops
black and white
sepia tone with Polaroid frame
blur with museum matte frame
darkened with space texture
lips - because you can!

© 2013 Sally Knudsen

Friday, July 12, 2013

The Cabinet Maker's Legacy

Johann Lorenz "Lawrence" Hummel, my German immigrant ancestor, was a cabinet maker by trade. His occupation entries on the 1870, 1880, and 1900 Federal censuses confirm this. A cabinet maker was what we might consider a woodworker or furniture maker. Lawrence worked for many years in the car shops of the Lake Shore and Michigan Southern Railroad in Adrian, Lenawee, Michigan.

During his free time, Lawrence plied his trade for personal use. My proof is this child's chair that has been in my family since 1896.

This chair was crafted by Lawrence and given as a gift to his first-born grandchild, William Lawrence Hummel, my great-grandfather. The chair measures 28 inches tall. It was always the item that could be viewed but NEVER EVER sat upon. When I was growing up, it sat in my parent's living room with my 'Mrs. Beasley' doll in it, sort of as the security guard. I'm glad it was well cared for, and it now sits snuggled in a quiet corner in my home.

seat made of leather and tacks
underside of seat with metal support
carving and spindles
detail of spindle attachments
armrest supports
It is still in its original condition with no repairs. Hopefully, my great grandfather or his sister or cousins used it, as there is natural wear on the arms. I love that I have this treasure and am grateful my ancestor had a skill that could literally be passed on.

© 2013 Sally Knudsen

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Properly Introducing Johann Lorenz Hummel

Johann Lorenz Hummel was previously introduced in my blog as both my great-great-great-grandfather and the unfortunate victim of a runaway horse and buggy. Let's start from the beginning and learn a little more information about "Lawrence" Hummel.
Johann Lorenz Hummel
c 1893

Johann Lorenz Hummel was born 16 May 1843 in a small village called Buenzwangen near present-day Stuttgart, Germany. He was the ninth of eleven known children born to David Hummel and Rosina Dorothea Buchele. Much research was performed on the families of this region, including the Hummel's, through the thousands of record transcriptions found in this database. I contributed my known family records to the database as well. [Kudos to Kathy for her hard work!]

The Hummel family looked like this:

Descendants of David HUMMEL
  born: 26 Oct 1804, Bünzwangen, Donaukreis, Wuerttemburg, Germany
  died: 8 Oct 1880, Germany
  parents: David Hummel and Barbara Eitle 
 +Rosina Dorothea BUCHELE
  born: 26 Oct 1806, Bünzwangen, Donaukreis, Wuerttemburg, Germany
  marr: 24 Apr 1827, Albershausen, Donaukreis, Wuerttemberg, Germany
  died: ?
  parents: Johann Georg BUCHELE and Rosina Dorothea MAURER
|--Johann Georg HUMMEL
|    born: 9 Jul 1828, Bünzwangen, Donaukreis, Wuerttemburg, Germany
|    died: 31 Dec 1828, Bünzwangen, Donaukreis, Wuerttemburg, Germany
|--David HUMMEL
|    born: 5 Sep 1829, Bünzwangen, Donaukreis, Wuerttemburg, Germany
|    died: 7 Feb 1890
|--Johannes HUMMEL
|    born: 25 Oct 1831, Bünzwangen, Donaukreis, Wuerttemburg, Germany
|    died: 7 Oct 1835, Bünzwangen, Donaukreis, Wuerttemburg, Germany
|--Johann Georg HUMMEL
|    born: 23 Oct 1833, Bünzwangen, Donaukreis, Wuerttemburg, Germany
|    died: 13 Nov 1835, Bünzwangen, Donaukreis, Wuerttemburg, Germany
|--Jacob HUMMEL
|    born: 27 Jan 1835, Bünzwangen, Donaukreis, Wuerttemburg, Germany
|    died: 5 Mar 1837, Bünzwangen, Donaukreis, Wuerttemburg, Germany
|--Margarethe HUMMEL
|    born: 16 Aug 1837, Bünzwangen, Donaukreis, Wuerttemburg, Germany
|    died: 21 Feb 1923  ?
|    born: 2 Dec 1839, Bünzwangen, Donaukreis, Wuerttemburg, Germany
|    died: 2 Dec 1839, Bünzwangen, Donaukreis, Wuerttemburg, Germany
|--Rosina Dorothea HUMMEL
|    born: 16 Jan 1841, Bünzwangen, Donaukreis, Wuerttemburg, Germany
|    died: 21 Sep 1909
|--Johann Lorenz HUMMEL
|    born: 16 May 1843, Bünzwangen, Donaukreis, Wuerttemburg, Germany
|    died: 16 Sep 1901, Adrian, Lenawee, Michigan
|--Anna Maria HUMMEL
|    born: 16 Nov 1845, Bünzwangen, Donaukreis, Wuerttemburg, Germany
|    died: 7 Jun 1856, Bünzwangen, Donaukreis, Wuerttemburg, Germany
|--Barbara Catharina HUMMEL
     born: 20 Mar 1848, Bünzwangen, Donaukreis, Wuerttemburg, Germany
     died: 2 Mar 1919, Hubbard, Trumbull, Ohio

Christina Carolina
(Ebinger) Hummel
c 1893
Lawrence, as he is known in American records, emigrated to the United States via the ship Vera Cruz and landed in New York on 28 September 1866. He was accompanied by his youngest sister, Barbara Catharina Hummel. In 1869, Lawrence married fellow German immigrant Christina Carolina "Carrie" Ebinger in Coldwater, Branch, Michigan. Lawrence's sister Barbara married Frederick Carl Ebinger, the suspected brother of his wife, in 1870. They lived in Hubbard, Trumbull, Ohio. Additionally, at least two sons of their sister Margarethe Hummel Hoefer, also emigrated and lived in northern Ohio.

Lawrence was naturalized in January 1877 in the circuit court of Lenawee County, Michigan. He was clearly planning on staying! And it always makes me happy to see that my ancestors can sign their names. Big X's make me sad.

Lawrence's census records show:
  • 1870: Coldwater, Branch, Michigan, cabinet maker
  • 1880: Adrian, Lenawee, Michigan, cabinet maker
  • 1894 Michigan: Adrian, Lenawee, Michigan
  • 1900: Adrian, Lenawee, Michigan, cabinet maker
This is the basic information I have regarding Lawrence and Carrie beginning their life in America. I have several topics for continued research:
  • Learn more about the Ebinger family
  • Why did Lawrence and Barbara leave Germany? No more family? His trade? 
  • Did the Hummel's and Ebinger's know each other in Germany?
There are so many avenues to explore with the connections I have so far. Genealogy is just a big puzzle, but these intermarrying family members and nearby villages really make me curious to put together this particular family puzzle.

Stay tuned...

© 2013 Sally Knudsen

Thursday, July 4, 2013

My American Pie

Fourth of July has rolled around again with all the celebrations that entails. My family will celebrate Independence Day by cooking out, eating, eating some more, and watching fireworks, perhaps legal and perhaps courtesy of some rogue neighbors.

In addition to the mainstream festivities, I sometimes think about the Fourth of July in more historical terms. I do consider myself a genealogist, after all. Most family historians have probably attempted a little melting pot analysis of some kind. I have written prior posts on some of my background (pretty much Northern European) and the results of my mtDNA test (pretty much Northern European). I created the chart below breaking down the basic ancestry and emigration information on each of my 16 great-great-grandparents.

My paternal side (top half) is almost entirely of the Emerald Isle. My ancestors left Ireland for England, Scotland and the United States. It honestly surprised me a bit as I see them all grouped together: all eight of my paternal ancestors came to America in the same generation! And even though we often think famine regarding Irish ancestors, mine came quite a bit later (although some went to Scotland and/or England first). Facts are fun!

My maternal side (bottom half) is slightly more varied: German, Germans from West Prussia, a line from Scotland. The Prussian and German emigration in the mid-1800's was due to political unrest in Prussia and Eastern Europe. And then there are my "New Englanders I know to around 1800" lines. My Spencer line went from Rhode Island to Vermont in the Revolutionary War era, but I haven't yet found soldiers. I have a tenuous war connection through my Frederick line, but I haven't personally researched those facts. I know about these families to around 1800 in America. I have no idea of their ancestry or when these lines arrived here.

I only have one quarter of my ancestry who would have potentially been on American soil in 1776. America is truly a melting pot, as evidenced by my, and probably most of your, ancestors.

In honor of the 237th birthday of America, this is my American pie. A real fruit pie tastes better but this pie will keep me more fulfilled and happily researching for a long, long time.

Photo in the public domain

© 2013 Sally Knudsen